The Dreaded 4 Month Sleep Regression: What it is and How to Get Through it
It seems as though every new mom gets warned about the 4 month sleep regression, or if you haven’t, you’ll soon find out what all the fuss is about. This is the first of many sleep regressions (yes there are many sleep regressions during a babies first 2 years of life) but does it deserve the bad reputation it has? Yes and no. Let me explain.
What Is a Sleep Regression?
A sleep regression is a normal occurrence when a baby’s sleep “regresses” as they are working on a developmental milestone or mental leap, such as rolling which is often the highlight of the 4 month sleep regression.
Every baby will experience a sleep regression differently, as every baby is unique. Some babies will have their sleep habits flip 180 while other babies will barely experience a bump in the road. Temperament and your baby’s sleep habits will play a huge role in how they handle a sleep regression.
When Does The 4 Month Sleep Regression Happen?
A baby’s sleep habits start to change at around three months when they leave the newborn stage and their sleep starts to consolidate. In other words, their sleep cycles start to link resulting in them sleeping for longer periods at a time. Hurray for that!
How Long Does it Last?
Most sleep regressions typically last 2-6 weeks, and this one is no different. Some babies will go through it quickly while others will take a bit longer. Your baby’s sleep habits will help determine how long it takes your baby to come out the other end of this regression.
What Does the 4 Month Sleep Regression Look Like?
- Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep during naps and bedtime
- Refusal to feed as baby would rather explore their environment
- More frequent nighttime wakings to feed to make up for missed calories during the day
- Increase in fussiness, irritability and clinginess
How Do I Help Baby Through it?
- Give lots of time to practice new skills during the day. This is the time that lots of babies learn how to roll. Allow baby lots of time to practice rolling and time to explore their environment. This will help them get tired enough to sleep.
- A calm bedtime routine will signal to baby that it’s time to sleep. Baby’s sleep environment should also be conducive to sleep meaning their sleep space is dark with minimal distractions.
- Follow age appropriate wake windows and tired signs (not the clock) to know when baby should be ready for sleep.
- Use motion or contact napping to extend naps as that might help baby make up for lost sleep. Remember, an overtired baby is hard to put to sleep.
- Create positive sleep associations so your baby feels that sleep is a safe place to be. Try to avoid stressing over the 4 month sleep regression as baby will feel your stress and not feel comfortable going to sleep.
- Go from 4 naps to 3 as baby is ready for wider wake windows during this stage. Also move bedtime earlier as baby adjusts to their new routine.
How Do I Get Through it?
A disruption in baby’s sleep can be hard on parents. I know this to be true firsthand! But this sleep regression is actually a good thing. It means baby is doing exactly what she should be doing; growing and learning about the world around her! So stay calm and try not to stress too much over the dreaded 4 month sleep regression. It may seem like it will never end but it will. Ask for help, get some sleep yourself and practice self-care. It will get better. I promise.
But if you are really struggling, we can help! Take a look at our newborn sleep course as the foundations taught will benefit a 4 month old baby. Or look at our sleep support packages if you feel like you need some gentle sleep coaching.